On Friday, the Chicago White Sox announced that rookie Michael Kopech needs Tommy John surgery for his torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). The right-handed hitter from Mount Pleasant, Texas is ranked the No. 13 overall prospect and No. 2 for the White Sox according to MLB Pipeline. This setback and surgery will mean that he will not play until 2020.
Kopech arrived on the White Sox roster on August 21st. He notified White Sox trainers of the pain in his right elbow on Wednesday when they lost to the Detroit Tigers (10-2). He had been fighting through the pain for quite some time, but did not recognize the extent of his injury. He still incredibly managed to hit 96.1 mph against the Tigers. This injury should not affect the speed of his pitch – which is his biggest asset.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn said that the program is confident that by 2020, Kopech will be “in a position to build off what we feel is a very bright future for a long time in a White Sox uniform.” Ultimately, with injuries like this, it is up to the player and his work ethic to determine the speed and efficacy of his recovery. Hopefully for Kopech this means 2020 will be a delayed, but strong debut he’s been preparing for.
Here’s what Kopech had to say about the news of his injury,
“It’s been a whirlwind of emotions for me in the past couple of weeks, obviously. From just about my absolute peak to the absolute rock bottom for me… To say it’s unexpected would be an understatement… It sucks. That’s it. It sucks.”
Moving forward, the White Sox will have to continue to rely on Reynaldo Lopez, James Shields, and Lucas Giolito start on the mound. The White Sox are in the middle of a series at home. They lost the first game 5-2 and will play again Saturday at 7:10 p.m. ET and Sunday at 2:10 p.m. ET.
Featured Image via Flickr/Keith Allison